Thinking about writing this blog entry has gotten me more and more excited.
Why? Well because I fell deeply in love with the food of Vietnam. We spent 45 days in the country and neither of us had a single stomach ache, in fact the food was always super fresh and incredibly healthy.
I have always considered myself a Foodie, but I’ve never been one to write about or photograph my food. That was until I visited Vietnam this past November. Now I know that everyone has heard of Pho, but the thing about the food within the country that blew my mind was its diversity. Outside of Vietnam, in both Europe & the States, I’ve only really eaten Pho, sure I’ve tried some dumplings and spring rolls, but in the country itself, every region has it’s own special dish.
Why you may ask did I like the food so much? Well, eating in Vietnam was totally immersive and the most interactive eating of my life. Not to mention that the food was just so damn good. Every single meal involved taking action, whether it be rolling the lettuce around the spring roll or dipping the dumplings into the sauces offered, or mixing the bean sprouts into my noodle dishes, every single meal had some element of choice to make it just the way I wanted.
I decided to write this blog post for a few reasons. First, I really love to share my photographs, second as a reminder to myself of the joy of eating, and third…to encourage you to take a trip to Vietnam and eat your heart out!
Every single meal involved taking action, whether it be rolling the lettuce around the spring roll or dipping the dumplings into the sauces offered, or mixing the bean sprouts into my noodle dishes, every single meal had some element of choice to make
One of the things I enjoyed the most about eating in Vietnam was the level of love the Vietnamese have for their own food. The streets of Hanoi are filled with vendors and tiny plastic seats with tiny plastic tables. There are tons of choices for where to eat.
We learned early on a few key things:
1. Look for where the locals are.
2. Look for the napkins on the ground.
3. Look at the kitchen, does it look clean but chaotic, too clean is just weird.
4. Avoid overpriced places, the food is not better.
5. Trust what the locals next to you are ordering, just follow their lead.
6. Do not trust TripAdvisor if you actually want to experience good food, just follow your instincts.
7. Order things you have never seen before, heard of before, or thought you would ever try.
Yeah, sure there are actual restaurants where you can sit down and eat with other tourists, but 90% of the time the food in these places was bland and boring compared to the street vendors.
Being that the food is very inexpensive, you can always order a side dish. Some of my fav dishes involved dumplings…soft, fried, steamed, crispy!
Being that the food is very inexpensive, you can always order a side dish. Some of my fav dishes involved dumplings...soft, fried, steamed, crispy!
Thanksgiving Day, we were in Saigon. It’s my favorite Holiday back in the states, so I really wanted to celebrate with a special meal. We found a famous street food street through the VietnamCoracle blog. Headed over on our little scooter and started smelling out the right place to eat. One thing we learned in Vietnam – if the restaurant looks messy, it just means they are so busy, they can’t keep up with their clients. Because I guarantee they clean the streets at the end of every evening & the food is as fresh as food can be. Don’t be scared by the grime, the outdoor atmosphere…this is seafood that came straight from the ocean & hasn’t been frozen.
We weren’t really sure what to order looking at the above selection, everything looked so dang fresh. But we got super lucky when a Vietnamese/American arrived with a group of tourists. When she walked up to the above spread we asked her what we should try and she offered to order for us. After telling her we would eat anything. We just sat down & waited patiently for the food to arrive.
One chef for all those tables.
Do you see all that garlic?
And a magic show to pass the time!
4 beers, a bunch of spices, grilled octopus, grilled oysters, a broth, and literally $6 later, we sat in awe of the simplicity of this meal & how good it was, our taste buds were blown!
Now I am going to move onto some Vietnamese BBQ that we had in the ancient capitol of Hue, considered one of the best places to eat in the country!
I think overall this was the best meal we had throughout our 3 month journey. We walked by this BBQ place and it looked cute, although we didn’t feel hungry, we decided to sit down for a beer. After watching our neighbors cooking on their little individual BBQ platters, we thought, well we should order something.
Well there was not a single tourist around & no one spoke English, so as I stood over the platter of fresh meat & tried to decipher what to eat…I quickly realized that I had no idea what I was looking at. The girls working were trying hard to explain the items to me. We got out our smartphones and google translate, we tried a few things, made some funny noises. Finally I realized that they served crocodile & ostrich. I hadn’t tried either.
It was so cute, the stall owner came over to start up our individual BBQ & then just decided to stay and show us how to cook & eat the items in combination. We quickly realized we had ordered way too much, but it all tasted so good, so we kept eating!
It was so much fun, we basically had one of the best meals of our lives. We must have been there for a couple hours. I think it’s obvious from the look at Axel’s face, just how satisfying this meal was!
Now let’s not forget to mention, VIETNAMESE COFFEE! Are you kidding me, condensed milk, dark expresso, & loads of ice, which they usually serve with a pot of green tea to balance out the heaviness of the condensed milk.
Which brings up one of my favorite facts about Vietnamese food. Food in Vietnam is based on the properties of Yin & Yang. Therefore if you have spicy food, you need to eat a cooling food at the same time. This is one of the greatest qualities of Vietnamese eating. No matter how much we ate, we never felt tired or too full, we always had energy and we always felt perfectly satisfied.
Vietnamese pride is evident, they love their food & you can see how much pride and joy they get from both cooking & eating. It’s hard not to get excited yourself when you’re in this atmosphere!
And when your chickens are being raised in palaces like this…
One of the things that is so awesome about the food is just how fresh it is, you get everything at the market on the day you are going to cook, it is grown locally, it is fish caught that day & handled by people that smile on their lunch breaks 🙂
If you’ve been thinking about a trip to Vietnam…I highly suggest checking out the Vietnam Coracle blog. This guy truly knows what’s up about pretty much anything related to traveling in Vietnam!
I hope you enjoyed this blog post. If you did please share it with your friends & family. I would love to hear about your personal experiences with Vietnamese street food in the comments below, c’mon share!